Support this lifeline for struggling families

True North Housing Alliance’s new project deserves recognition and the community’s donations

Chico is fortunate to have a few programs that not only offer a safety net for homeless folks but also work to get to the root of the issues that led to their life on the streets. A prime example is Aurora North, the latest facility operated by True North Housing Alliance—aka the parent organization of the Torres Community Shelter—that specifically welcomes families with children.

As Ashiah Scharaga reports in this week’s Newslines (see “Lighting the way,” page 8), it’s a house in Chico that offers parents and little ones alike a safe, comfortable environment. At the same time, it serves as an education center designed to give parents the tools they need to gain independence. That’s accomplished by bringing in community partners to provide case management and parenting and substance abuse classes.

Though the program is temporary in nature, functioning as a stepping stone while families search for a home of their own, it serves as a structured place for parents and children.

Such facilities are much needed in Butte County. Case in point: The Torres Shelter saw an influx in families over the past several years to the point where the organization regularly hosted an average of 20 children per night (as many as 50 on one peak evening), Executive Director Joy Amaro told the CN&R. At the same time, the demand among the general homeless population spiked as well.

The combination has posed a significant challenge for the shelter when it comes to moving toward its goal of becoming a completely low-barrier facility that forgoes drug testing. Citing safety concerns of co-mingling the populations, the organization has put families first. Aurora North is a step toward making that transition.

Thing is, this model facility is operating on grant funding via a one-time allocation from the state. To wit, the money was originally awarded to the Jesus Center before it backed out of a different project to serve homeless folks in the region, the proposed Orange Street Shelter.

We’re impressed with what True North Housing Alliance has accomplished with Aurora North in such a short time frame, and our hope is that CN&R readers will help sustain the program by making donations to the organization. Because the need is so great, we also hope that it inspires other local homeless service providers to embark on similar projects. Indeed, for struggling local families and vulnerable children, this is a lifeline. It deserves community support.